§ Sir ADRIAN BAILLIE
I wish to raise an urgent matter of Privilege affecting the dignity of this House. I desire to draw attention, in particular, to the fact that, contrary to the custom of Parliament and the dignity of this House, an Address has been presented to His Majesty from another place asking for 1314 His Majesty's assent to new legislation affecting the Constitution of Parliament and the relationships of the two Houses. I should like to ask whether I should be in Order in moving that a special Committee of Privileges be set up immediately to inquire into this matter, and to ask that this Motion be treated as urgent, action having already been taken on the Motion passed in another place.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The question I have to decide is whether the question of Privilege really arises. The hon. Member only gave me notice of his intention to raise this question just before the House assembled. It has, therefore, been quite impossible for me in the time to decide where a prima facie case of Privilege exists. At first sight the answer would appear to me to be in the negative. I will give the hon. Member a considered reply on Monday.
§ Sir A. BAILLIE
I apologise for only having brought this matter to your attention at such short notice, but it is laid down in Sir Thomas Erskine May, page 264, thata Privilege matter may also be brought forward without notice, before the commencement of public business, and is considered immediately, on the assumption that the matter is brought forward without delay, and that its immediate consideration is essential to the dignity of the House.As regards the question of Privilege, the only occasion on which I can find that this matter was raised was as far back as the reign of Charles II in 1666—on 24th January, 1666—and it was then admitted that, although the other place asserted their liberty to petition His Majesty separately on anything warranted by law, they agreed they must not do so on anything which was introductive of a new law. On another date in January of that year, the Commons laid down grounds for objecting to the separate petitions being presented to His Majesty from another place. I will not weary the House with all of these reasons, but there is one specific one—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It is unnecessary for the hon. Member to give precedents. I make no complaint that he did not raise this question before. I said that he had not done so, so as to justify me in not being able to give him a considered reply. I can assure him that my not doing so will not in any way prejudice him in having fulfilled the conditions by raising the question of Privilege at the earliest possible moment. The very questions which he is now raising and submitting to the House are those to which I will have to give consideration between now and Monday, when I will give him a reply as to whether a prima facie case of Privilege exists.
§ Sir A. BAILLIE
I thank you very much, Sir, for your reply. Might I ask on what occasion it will be in order for me to raise this question again?